The 'Cod War' Heats Up

Rerun. ‘The Fish Feud!’ - as the tabloids originally termed the standoff between Britain and Iceland over fishing rights - had escalated into a fully-fledged ‘Cod War’ by 21st September, 1958, when the destroyer H.M.S. Diana requested medical assistance for a Marine suffering appendicitis.

The dispute arose when Iceland had unilaterally extended its fishing zone from 4 to 12 nautical miles. For centuries prior to this, boundaries were calculated via the ‘canon shot rule’ - i.e. the distance a canon could be fired from the shore.

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly explain why Iceland was having a jingoistic moment; reveal how the Soviets intervened to disrupt Britain’s defense strategy; and explain how the humble battered sausage came to the rescue for the UK’s chip shops…

Further Reading:

• ‘Iceland v Britain: the cod wars begin’ (The Guardian, 1958):

• ‘How Iceland Beat the British in the Four Cod Wars’ (Atlas Obscura, 2018):

• ‘Storyville: Cod Wars’ (BBC, 2002):

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The Retrospectors are Olly Mann, Rebecca Messina & Arion McNicoll, with Matt Hill.

Theme Music: Pass The Peas. Announcer: Bob Ravelli. Graphic Design: Terry Saunders. Edit Producer: Sophie King.

Copyright: Rethink Audio / Olly Mann 2023.

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